5 On Your Side

Consumer Reports Tests Power Blowers

Posted October 4, 2007 5:37 p.m. EDT
Updated October 4, 2007 8:09 p.m. EDT

Consumer Reports recently tested more than 20 power blowers, gas and electric, to see which ones are the best buys.

They cost anywhere from $30 to $500.

One key test was noise. Users don't want to hurt their ears or bug their neighbors. Testers say tests show for most blowers, you should wear hearing protection.

“And we also learned that at a distance, although units are quieter than they've been in the past, they're still loud enough to be annoying to the neighbors,” said Peter Sawchuk with Consumer Reports.

Another test showed how fast the blower could get the job done. To show how the test worked, a tester dumped 100 gallons of leaves - about 20 pounds in all - on a 10-foot-square patch of grass. Then he timed how long it took to clear the area.

Testers found most backpack blowers allow users to work longer over a bigger area, and they're more comfortable than most hand blowers.

“With an aging population, people are more interested in the comfort that these backpack blowers have to offer. But they can be more expensive, costing hundreds of dollars more than hand-held models,” Sawchuk said.

Consumer Reports gave top ratings to the $70 Toro Ultra Blower Vac - model 51599. This newly re-designed electric blower promises improved blowing and performance ― and Consumer Reports' testers found it delivers.

For users who prefer a backpack blower, Consumer Reports' best buy is a $260 model from Echo. It weighs 14 pounds, which is relatively light.